Institutional Strengthening and Financing Must be Priorities for Countries to Fulfill the 2030 Agenda

EclacOn the second day of the Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development, government representatives presented their experiences regarding voluntary national reviews to achieve the worldwide initiative’s objectives.

(April 27, 2017) The strengthening of institutions, especially through improved construction and measurement of national statistics systems’ indicators, as well as the provision of financing, are two of the priorities that countries of the region must address with greater urgency if they want to comply with the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), authorities and government representatives asserted today in Mexico.

Eleven countries of Latin America and the Caribbean presented today their experiences, progress and challenges in preparing their voluntary national reviews on the fulfillment of the 2030 Agenda’s goals and targets, during the second day of the Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development, which is being held in the Mexican capital and sponsored by ECLAC.

In three panel discussions, led by representatives of Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela – given their experience drafting the voluntary national reviews that they presented in 2016 to the United Nations High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development – authorities from Argentina, Belize, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Peru and Uruguay gave presentations on the progress so far in those countries and the pending challenges they face to move toward attaining the 2030 Agenda goals, approved in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly.

These 11 nations are expected to present their progress regarding this process during the next session of the HLPF, the global follow-up mechanism for the 2030 Agenda, which is due to be held in July 2017 in New York.

According to government representatives, in addition to institutional strengthening and financing, other fundamental aspects that must be considered in the process are information management, the incorporation of the SDGs into national development plans, the involvement of all sectors of society – the private sector especially – and interinstitutional coordination, as well as international cooperation among countries and with the bodies of the United Nations System.

“Based on the experience of these countries, we have seen that nearly all follow-up mechanisms for the 2030 Agenda are associated with Offices of the President, through ministries and other state institutions. It is crucial that legislators, civil society at large, the private sector and academia also be incorporated,” Alicia Bárcena, ECLAC’s Executive Secretary, underscored during the debates. “Moreover, we must use innovative instruments to finance the Agenda; not everything can be based solely on public resources. Investment and public-private collaboration must be fostered,” Bárcena specified.

The standouts among national experiences on follow-up to the 2030 Agenda that were mentioned by participants included Mexico’s recently created National Council on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which was officially inducted by President Enrique Peña Nieto on Wednesday, April 26; Brazil’s National Commission on the SDGs, which is of a parity nature with eight representatives from government and eight from civil society; the Social Policy Coordinating Council of Argentina; the Inter-Ministerial Committee of Chile; and the National Council on Urban and Rural Development of Guatemala, as well as government initiatives of the highest level in El Salvador, Honduras, Belize, Costa Rica and Uruguay.

Chile’s Minister of Social Development, Marcos Barraza, who was one of the speakers of the day, stressed the importance of ensuring that the indicators used to measure the 2030 Agenda’s SDGs not be expressions of government goals alone, but rather that they be perfectly aligned with the aspirations of civil society. He added that proper coordination between institutions and citizens or civil society is fundamental.

Meanwhile, the Undersecretary for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights of Mexico, Miguel Ruiz Cabañas – who presided one of the panel discussions – highlighted the need for coherency in the allocation of financing to fulfill this Agenda. “Governments have to put resources where their discourses are. This is the litmus test to determine if governments are truly aiming their efforts at the sustainable development goals,” he said.

In relation to this point, Undersecretary Ruiz Cabañas proposed the organization of a special session on the financing of the 2030 Agenda and requested ECLAC’s good offices to carry that out in the near future. In this regard, Alicia Bárcena commented that this session could take place in the coming months and would require convening all stakeholders involved in this issue, especially development banks and country finance ministers.

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